Thursday, December 04, 2014

Federal Aviation Administration message: Get busy or lose grant funds

Carroll County Airport Authority Board members met via teleconference with members of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Monday morning.

The meeting was held per a request from Irene Porter of the FAA.
Attending the meeting locally were Airport Authority Board President Sonny Fitzsimmons, Members Dave Fitzgerald and Ted Lairson, Secretary Ashley McCort, and former board member Mike Stich.  Member Al Jeske participated by telephone.

FAA participants included Porter, Program Manager Brad Davidson, Environmental Protection Specialists Ernest Gubry and Katherine Delaney and Brittan Smith, community planners.

Also joining part of the teleconference was Bruce Brandstetter, a consultant hired by the airport board five years ago to construct a perimeter fence around the runway area at the airport.

The point of contention in receiving approval from the FAA to proceed with construction of the fence stems from an improperly submitted “Exhibit A” by Brandstetter. This “Exhibit A” was supposed to show property lines, perimeters, and specific information regarding the land containing the runway and the area around it.

Porter said she sent Brandstetter and members of the board specific information which must be corrected, updated, and/or properly submitted to the FAA, which Brandstetter has not done.

At risk is the loss of FAA funding of $500,000 for construction of the perimeter fence.

“I suggest you remove the bidding from this contract and close the 2012 grant.  It’s been well over a year and Exhibit A is still not done to FAA standards,” stated Porter.

Porter said former member Rick Carlton conducted research in county offices in April 2012.  From that research and paperwork submitted by Brandstetter, Porter said she sent a long list of notes explaining what needed to be done.  To date, it has not been completed.

“There isn’t enough information on “Exhibit A” to validate the information needed.  Some of your property I can validate, and some I cannot.  This was all forwarded to Brandstetter. None of the information I sent was utilized by Brandstetter. This is your consultant and it is up to you to get this right. You have some work to do on property deeds,” continued Porter.

Fitzgerald questioned Porter as to how the board should proceed.  “You need to hire a regular land surveyor to survey the runway area and the obstructive area as well,” she replied.

Fitzgerald then asked Porter regarding a time frame. Porter responded by saying their grant funds were going to expire May 1. All surveying, plans, specs, and bidding must be completed by then.

At this point, Brandstetter announced his presence on the telephone.  Porter questioned him regarding the comments from the April correspondence that were not utilized and have been ignored.

“Your documents are not in accordance with our standards,” said Porter.
Brandstetter replied by saying he would look at the notes from Porter’s email to see if they need incorporated or not.

 “If we can’t get moving on this, the airport authority has $46,486 that will expire. That expiration date is or was Sept. 30, 2014,” said Porter.
Fitzsimmons told Brandstetter he needs to complete the work in December or January.  Brandstetter replied, “I agree”.

Porter asked board members if they have the required 10 percent matching funds available should they move forward and receive the $500,000 grant for the fencing project and the additional $46,685.
“Do you have the $56?” questioned Porter.

Fitzsimmons said they may need to break down the grant into smaller projects. Lairson asked if they can complete the fence project in smaller phases, saying he feels the board can secure the local money that way.

Proter asked if the board has any special events planned in the near future or in 2015.  Fitzgerald replied they do not.

On a separate matter, Porter told the board there are trees obstructing a clear approach to areas at the airport.

She said the board should begin ridding the area of obstructions by working with property owners and participate in land acquisition to get rid of the trees.
Porter also pointed out the Runway Protection Zone has incompatible land use, because there are residence, and even a church within the zone. The best way to control that situation, she said, is to own the land.

When the teleconference call ended, Fitzsimmons asked board members for comments.  Jeske said they have a lot of work to do.  Fitzsimmons said they have to get Exhibit A correct and get it in to Irene.

Jeske said they have to hire a surveyor and get it done.

Lairson objected to hiring another surveyor because Brandstetter is supposed to be one.  Lairson said they have paid out $40,000 to $50,000 for surveying and it still isn’t done right. He feels Brandstetter should be made to do it and do it right.

“Perhaps we could use some legal pressure since he didn’t perform,” said Fitzgerald.

McCort added Brandstetter has been paid more than $95,046 and has a bill for his time still pending for $4,732.

“How long were they going to play with this guy?” asked Lairson, referring to Brandstetter.

“We are looking for consultants now.  We should make him do what he’s been paid to do.  We should get what he owes us,” said Fitzgerald.

Brandstetter has repeatedly been asked to present a detailed expense report for his billings.  These requests have been made for the last six months and Brandstetter still has not complied.

“We need a new consultant,” said Fitzgerald.

Moving on to another matter, Fitzsimmons told McCort not to deposit airport tenant Leon Lamp’s rent check when it is received.

Lamp has not signed a lease agreement and was given a month-to-month agreement last month.  Leon claims there is water under his building and he has had an ongoing problem with a leaky roof and yet the board has done nothing to make any repairs for him.

“Myself and the board have bent over backwards to deal with Leon. If he would step up to the plate we wouldn’t have this problem,” said Fitzsimmons.  “If Leon would just bring us a lease. Lairson yelled at this point, saying he brought a lease from Lamp to the board last month.

Changing discussion to last month’s action to permit Fitzgerald, who managers the fuel station, to sell remaining jet fuel in the tanks at whatever rate he can get, Lairson said he still does not understand why he is willing to sell it so cheap.

“You’re using common sense and that doesn’t work in the real world,” said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald said he had the fuel checked and it is perfectly fine but the jet fuel company says it shouldn’t be in the ground tanks for an extended period of time; to sell it and purchase new fuel. 

Disagreement continued over a photo showing a hangar at the airport containing dozens of all terrain vehicles.  Fitzgerald and Fitzsimmons both said as long as an airplane is in there too, they don’t care what else is in a hangar.

Further disagreements continued over who actually owns the hangar buildings, airport leases and agreements that have been made, and over the fact that the airport manager is also a member of the airport authority board. Lairson continues to contend the attorney general has given two formal opinions stating the manager cannot be a member of the board.

The board is scheduled to meet again Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Microtel on Canton Rd. in Carrollton.

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